|Turbine Tower Truck, courtesy of PSE|
Puget Sound Energy (PSE), a Northwest-based power utility is in the midst of expanding its wind turbine facilities in the wind-rich lower Snake River drainage in southeast Washington State, just a stone’s throw (OK, a long throw) from the salmon-killing lower Snake River dams. Is it providence or merely coincidence?
PSE’s Lower Snake River Wind Project will build on existing nearby wind facilities, Hopkins Ridge and Marengo – expanding the Pacific Northwest’s truly clean energy by 343 MW. In addition to the numerous benefits associated with increasing our supply of domestic, carbon-free, salmon-friendly energy, these projects also contribute significant benefits by creating short and long-term jobs locally, generating income for local landowners, and increasing local tax revenues – all things we need more of these days!
PSE reports on a number of these economic benefits from the Hopkins Ridge and Marengo wind facilities, which represent a combined 204 wind turbines with 367 megawatts (MW) of capacity.
PSE found that:
• Construction of these Columbia County wind facilities created $2.3 million annually in labor income
• Operation of these facilities contributes $3.5 million annually in labor income
• Construction of these facilities created 190 direct and indirect jobs
• Operation of these facilities created 55 direct and indirect jobs
• These facilities paid more than $900,000 in taxes in 2008, reducing the tax burden on individual property owners.
PSE also looked at the economic impact of wind on a per-MW basis, and found, for example, that operation of these facilities results in $10,000 in annual income per MW. The new Lower Snake Wild Project being installed as we speak will provide more of the same - Local Jobs. Income. Tax revenues. Carbon-free energy. No harm to salmon.
Northwest wind and other renewable sources of energy are no longer an energy source for the future. It’s here now. We are building it, using it in-region, and exporting it out of region. Unplugging ourselves from the energy of the lower Snake River dams and replacing their limited transportation and energy benefits with alternatives is feasible, affordable, and will provide long-term benefits for our region – healthy salmon populations, good jobs in energy, transportation and outdoor recreation, taxpayer savings, and restored habitat and parklands for hunting, fishing, hiking and boating along 140 miles of the lower Snake River.